MIDLAND, Mich.—Dow Chemical Co. has wrapped up a first half in which profits increased even as sales fell.
Midland-based Dow reported second-quarter and first-half results on July 23. Overall company sales for the half fell 14 percent against the first half of 2014 to less than $25.3 billion, while profit jumped by one-third to more than $2.7 billion.
Dow's Performance Plastics unit—including one of the world's largest polyethylene resin businesses — showed first-half sales falling 19 percent to $9.1 billion, while pretax profit grew 25 percent to almost $2.5 billion. Performance Plastics was the largest of Dow's five reporting segments in the first half of 2015, generating almost 36 percent of total sales.
Dow Elastomers, a division within Performance Plastics that produces polyolefin elastomers, reported increased sales as double-digit volume gains on strong demand overcame currency impacts.
The firm's Performance Materials & Chemicals unit—including Dow's polyurethanes and epoxy businesses—saw first-half sales fall 12 percent to less than $6.5 billion, even as pretax profit ballooned almost 90 percent to almost $1.8 billion.
Lower global prices played a role in sales drops at both of those units. Dow's global Performance Plastics prices were down 23 percent in the first half, while prices for products made by Performance Materials & Chemicals saw their global prices slide by 14 percent.
Chairman and CEO Andrew Liveris said in a news release that the firm's order loading “remains strong … in a period of ongoing economic volatility.” He added that Dow sees “growing momentum” in construction, packaging and automotive markets, which is outweighing some softness in agriculture and energy-related markets.
On Wall Street, investors reacted negatively to Dow's second-quarter earnings report, sending the firm's per-share stock price down almost four percent to almost $48 in early trading July 23. That price however remains higher than the start of 2015, when Dow's per-share price was around $45.50.